Balloon Repair Station

News 02.09.14

Fire and First Aid Course (CAP 611) – at last
Been a bit of a desert for Commercial Pilots, and of course the more concensious private pilots, of late when it comes to revalidating their F&FA course required to maintain their CPL. To the rescue have come, yet again, MG Training. As a result those lovely fellas are providing, at short notice, one on Monday 8 September 2014 at the Willoughby Arms in Little Bytham, Grantham, Lincolnshire (actually a lot closer to Stamford!). Dead easy to get to as the A1 is only about 4 miles to the west and it is just down the road from where the Mallard achieved its steam engine record. Their charge for the course which includes all tuition, course materials, assessment and certification is £120 + VAT per person including as much tea, coffee, juice that you can drink. MG assure us that if the number of participants is high enough they will reduce the course fee and you’ll get a partial refund. Its all about for balloonists by balloonists type of thing. Best thing though is the Willoughby Arms which serves superb beer, offers accommodation and does a fine bit of grub. To make a booking, for further information or if you’d like to arrange a course in your own area, for even a small group, contact M&G on 01780411015 or email them at If you’ll be using a nicknack to get there then the pub details are at

Airspace Infringers to have to sit online test
To increase the options it has available to tackle airspace infringements, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) may, from 1st September, ask pilots who infringe controlled or restricted airspace to sit a short online test to assess their airmanship skills. The test will only be accessible with a secure password, sent by the CAA to the naughty pilot. Failure to successfully complete the test within one month (no not a month to complete it, read on) could result in further licensing action being taken against the pilot. The test will be preceded by an open-access tutorial reiterating the basics of good airmanship, which all current pilots are urged to view.

The CAA said the move was a further attempt to reduce the large number of airspace infringements still occurring in the UK every year. In 2013, air traffic control provider, NATS, reported 670 incidents of pilots infringing controlled airspace, equating to one incident occurring every five hours of daylight, spread over the course of the year. Infringements of temporary restricted airspace and Danger Areas bring the average annual total to around 900. Despite the efforts of the CAA, air traffic control providers and the aviation industry, there has been little decrease in these numbers over recent years.

Fortunately for some they acknowledge that some of these incidents were not down to poor judgement on the part of the pilot but could be the result of miscommunication or misunderstanding with an air traffic controller, for example. In such cases, it was unlikely the pilot would be required to sit the test. Only incidents in which the pilot had displayed poor judgement or insufficient knowledge would he, or she, be expected to undertake the assessment. In the most serious cases, where a pilot displays a wilful intent to fly unauthorised into controlled or restricted airspace, a criminal prosecution may still be resorted to.

Phil Roberts, Head of Airspace, Air Traffic Management and Aerodromes, at the CAA, said: “Unfortunately, the number of infringements occurring in UK airspace remains stubbornly high. This represents an unacceptable safety risk for commercial, private and military aviation. This initiative, which has the full support of general aviation groups should increase much-needed awareness of the issue. Although we strongly recommend all pilots view the tutorial as a basic refresher on airmanship, our firm hope is that pilots who have infringed, and subsequently sit the test, will learn from their mistakes and become better pilots as a result and, as a consequence, be less likely to infringe again in the future.”

The tutorial and test have been produced with the assistance of a number of GA representative groups, such as AOPA and BMAA, as well as NATS and the Ministry of Defence. Pilots who are required to sit the test following an infringement will be contacted in writing by the CAA. The test is made up of 20 randomly selected multiple-choice questions probing the full range of pilot knowledge, and must be completed within 10 minutes. Only one attempt may be made at the test, with the pass rate set at 80 per cent.

Balloon Rides to the edge of space.
Following on from Felix Baumgartner’s jump in 2012 it wasn’t going to be long before someone decided that giving rides in balloons to the edge of space would be a way to turn a pound (or Euro). Picked up by the London Region’s Jeff and Val Roberts they reported that this venture is to go from Spain. Spanish company Zero2Infinity have, they claim, created an eco-friendly way for you to have a near-space experience. Called ‘Bloon’ it’s a zero-emission craft that has been designed for commercial near-space flight. Based in Barcelona, they have created a module hooked upto a giant helium balloon that will float you up to an altitude of 36 km, about 118,000 feet, above the Earth. This should give you a view of approximately 1,400 km diameter view of the planet we call home meaning passengers will be able to see Paris and Rome at the same time (weather permitting!). As a passenger of Bloon you will get an ‘out of the world experience’. The flight will last around 4 hours and you will reach around 115,000 feet. A test balloon was flown last year and the space suits that will need to be worn are being tested although the website seems to show images of casually clothed passengers. On the flight last year the balloon landed about 40 miles away from the launch site in Cordoba. If you book now the cost is €110,000.00 payable in three stages. €10,000 to put your name down and become a ‘priority client’ followed by €50,00.00 payable after the first human flight and finally a further €50,000.00 when your flight date is confirmed. Val is smashing up her piggy bank to see how much she has spare in loose change to book her flight. Virgin Galactica are currently selling places on their spaceship for $250,000 dollars which is about €190,000 but it is allegedly booked up for years already.

Southend Airspace Changes.
The CAA has approved the temporary establishment of a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) at London Southend Airport. It came into force on 18 July 2014 and the RMZ is has been established to augment safety measures of existing air traffic control procedures. Although an ATC clearance is not required, pilots will be expected to comply with the conditions detailed in the published CAA RMZ policy statement, dated 16 August 2013, when flying in class G airspace. Compliance with the requirements of the RMZ will be satisfied by the establishment of two way radio contact with Southend on 130.775 before entering the zone. A chart of the Southend RMZ can be viewed at The CAA policy statement on RMZ and the CAA Safety Notice can be viewed at

More Airspace News of a Wordly sort
Just in case you are thinking of setting up a Rides Business in Syria or Iceland or having a crack at flying round the planet then best you heed the latest SIBs from the EASA. First up is ‘SIB 2014-25 – Safety Information Bulletin: Restrictions Concerning Syrian Airspace’, telling you not to overfly the place and can be found at then there is the updated warning about flying through Volcanic Ash Clouds should the rather Australian sounding Icelandic volcano, Bardarbunga, blow its socks off. Back in 2010 Eyjafjallajokull shut down swathes of European Airspace for six days. SIB 2010-17R6 issued on 21 AUGUST 2014 allows a lot more flexibility so its likely that unless it does the decent thing and sends tons of ash our way we won’t get the chance to wander over closed major airports like what ‘appened last time. Shame. The revised (second revision) Safety Information Bulletin is at As we trot off to press it seems Afghanistan isn’t a good place to fly either. Hopefully Phil ‘Nearly Flown in every country’ Dunnington already has these?

Captain Campbell – Bear gets back to flying proper special shapes
8 captain morgan balloonAfter a few years flying passengers and trying to enjoy it Malcolm Campbell has finally managed to get back to flying something much more up his street or, rather, slipway. He is currently flying the Captain Morgan Galleon. Coming in at a very respectable 400kg it’s a thing of rare and utter beauty built by Kubicek, A country well versed in ocean going vessels obviously! Requiring a crew of eleventeen and operated by the ever dynamic Andrew Holly’s Exclusive Ballooning it is the next generation of special shapes to be sure and a sort of welcome return to the days of George the Bear, Lurpack and the Caramel Rabbit thing. If this is a ‘Back to the Future’ moment for ballooning then well done and more power to the movement as there are bound to be jobs available through Exclusive Ballooning but you’ll have to be a tufty. Now, if I recall, The Bear is actually a lager drinker. We have a bit more than a half pint glass in the workshop bar that is Captain Morgan which is dead handy for disarming over 8% Belgium beers. I personally reckon a Captain Morgan himself would have been pretty spectacular as he could have met up with The Piper and Sud Sud Sulliman at some stage in his career, never mind George the Bear. Neat. Will it be at Bristol next year, or Alberquerque, we wonder?

Brizzool beats the weather
13 RAF Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2014Having started out looking like bad weather would scupper this years’ Bristol Balloon Fiesta all went really well in the end and they had one of their best years ever. Hardys’ Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2014 managed to get 325 flights away, a world record landing of over 90 balloons in the Old Chocolate Factory in Keynsham and along with teams from nine visiting countries star of the show was a huge daisy balloon from the USA. Despite the forecast inclement weather from Hurricane Bertha the 36th Fiesta enjoyed four balloon ascents across the weekend, Thursday PM, Friday AM and PM and Saturday AM. The ascent on Friday morning broke all recent records with 124 balloons leaving the Ashton Court Estate. The two Nightglows, sponsored by Subway, Bristol and West and Securitas attracted the biggest crowds on both Thursday and Saturday nights with huge fireworks displays above the new tethered Hardys Wine balloon. There were also two air displays sponsored by Grant Thornton. The Breitling Wingwalkers and RAF Typhoon, as well as a Spitfire and Hurricane flying to the tune of Land and Hope and Glory on Saturday afternoon. Partner charity Above & Beyond, who flew their brand new hot air balloon from the site each day raised £7000 across the weekend. Those we have spoken to all said that the flying offered something for everyone, nice and brisk high up and gentle surface winds with a fine direction. What did impress was the care and attention put into the briefings which even suggested the best places to land which is the reason so many got into the old chocolate Factory, an amenity that will probably not be available next year. High point for many was the appearance of the CAA in force, in a good way. Andrew Haines along with Tony Rapson supported by Ian Chadwick and Mark Shortman put in an appearance on the stage and explained the CAA’s take on the licensing situation and their commitment to making ballooning less restrictive. The presentation was seen to be pro-active and the fact that the top bods at the CAA had taken time out to come and meet balloonists and see for themselves what it involved was appreciated. On the complaints side (not directed at the CAA obviously) were the usual moans and groans about the general mayhem of the arena then it taking over an hour to get out and away on the retrieve plus the biggest complaint about the poor refuelling setup which meant a round trip of several miles (claimed by some). Most put it down to the apparently bonkers one-way system that had been installed. Problem is though that the event is just so huge these 12 Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2014 shapesdays and combined with the Bristol traffic system there probably isn’t much that can be done. In case you were wondering what happened to the ninety or so bottles of wine and the £900 landing fees collected by the bemused security guard at the Chocolate Factory the wine will be auctioned for charity and the folding  donated to charity. Nice one. Courtesy of Sandy Mitchell there are some nice piccies and  a list of the balloons….elsewhere. Come to think of it we’ll stick it here. So herewith below follows a list of the balloons seen at the 2014 Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Dates for next year are now up as 6-9 August. “”

G-CIHI, G-CIHN, G-CIHO, G-CIJB, G-CJDN, G-COSY, G-DOOM, G-DPRO, 11 Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2014

Divine intervention
Just when you thought the furore of the Australian Betting Christ publicity stunt involving a Special Shape Christ the Redeemer and then the Italian TV Channel dressing it up an Italian soccer shirt was all done and dusted a rather splendid bit of footage of the sad demise of a winged base-jumper has taken Sharebend by storm. Have a gander at

Last minute rush for Meet
Bit short notice I admit but there seems to already be a good take-up on this the first Turkey Balloon Fiesta which is being held in Izmur from the 9th to the 17th September. The organisers promise sponsorship to get your kit out there, accommodation, meals and gas. For details check out their website at

Brazil World Hot Air Balloon Championship results
6 2014 Brazil balloonsDespite some adverse publicity and doubts about whether it would even go ahead came to nothing as the event attracted 58 entrants, just over half the normal field, from 20 countries including teams from Germany, Argentina, Austria, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, United States of America, Spain, France, Holland, England, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland and the Ukraine. 23 tasks were flown in 9 flights to Saturday morning. Once again the Ultramagic camp claimed success having one of their balloons in all but one of the first six places. The one they missed (third place) actually had an old Ultramagic Mk10 burner powering the thing. First place went to Yudai Fujita from Japan with a score of 17443, second place went to Germany’s Uwe Schneider with 16216 points and third to Brazilian Lupercio Lima with a very close 16064 points. Lone Brit Andrew Holly managed a commendable 39th place with a score of 11056.

4 2014 world balloon championship BrazilThe huge success on the first weekend of the competition held at the Rio Claros reported by the Organisers, with a massive presence of Rio Clarenses and visitors from several cities across Brazil, was topped off by the large number of people that took to the streets to see the competition between 60 pilots from 22 countries. With Yudia Fujita well out front the remaining positions were all still up for grabs but high winds and storms forced officials to cancel Thursday’s flights leaving Friday as the last major opportunity to score. Despite cloudy skies, gloomy weather and challenging winds the pilots launched and by the days end former champion Joe Heartsill, who had climbed to a close third by Wednesday, had dropped back to eighth with few points separating the higher positions. Saturday was the last day of challenging tasks then on Sunday there was a spectacular closing ceremony held at the Rio Claro Aero Club, with flights and an aerobatic show and music programme.

Sponsors Embratur better known as the Brazilian Tourist Board (a federal, state-owned agency reporting to the Brazilian Ministry of 5 Winners Brazil Hot Air balloon Championships 2014Tourism) were well pleased with the event and reported that over 35,000 people passed through the Rio Claro Aero Club on Sunday 20th July to see the World Hot Air Balloon Championship. “Our intention is for this practice to increase, and the championship will certainly contribute to this growth,” enthused Embratur president Vicente Neto. The high cost of travelling to event meant that many did not attend. Maybe next time it will be a bit closer to home.

The ‘latest news’ on the website is dated 7th July, before the event started, however all the final results as of 21:33 Saturday 26th July are available at  “!tasks-results/c1di0”!tasks-results/c1di0 Lots of piccies on Flipper at

Home and dry – Finnish Hurricane reaches Helsinki
3 Hurricane at Helsinki Int AirportAs the Canadian Lancaster was closing in on Britain Phil’s Hurricane arrived in Helsinki touching down on Thursday 7th August. Well done to them all. The picture is taken from the Texan 300ft above Runway 33 at Helsinki International Airport having been asked to do a low flypast and display above the runway. Fame didn’t last long though and he was reprimanded for wandering into their control zone on Sunday. Never mind looks brilliant. There is a fine video of it displaying at the Helsinki Airshow at


Sackville on the horizon
With September now chiming in, Team Sackville are working up towards the ever popular Grass Roots Meet. First possible slot will be the weekend of 5-7 September so its time to dig out the tent, iron your drinking trousers and get ready for the meet of the year. The Team are looking forward to welcoming you to this year’s event at Sackville Lodge. If you would like to participate please send your entry asap if you haven’t already done so. The format they tell us will be similar to previous years, relaxed fun flying and socialising. Latest is that it is going to happen this coming weekend 5-7 September with northerly winds forecast for a change and over 80 balloons already signed up. Be there or be square. Details are at

Another day in the office
1 Forbes Globe G-BYJWWhat a treat we had the other week. A surprise call announced that Phil and Anna were going to be bringing over the Forbes Glode, G-BYJW, for an inspection and while we were at it would we mind inspecting their little and large matching balloons. Well it would be a pleasure. Jane put the arrival of the rare balloons, seldom seen outside France, and in no time we got a call from our new CAA Surveyor asking if we would mind him coming down on the day to observe an inspection (or two) as part of his auditing procedure. “No problem”, we said, “As long as you help pack away”. Come the day the weather was spot on and as we were heaving out the Globe at the Black Horse Bill Teasdale and Mike Drye rocked up cameras at the ready, meanwhile in the carpark a few more lurked, lenses trained on the bags contents and notebooks out. The Globe was poured over and  the finer points of inspecting this shape pointed out to Mark and it was then stood up. In proper planet fashion it obliged nicely and once a walk round and good gander at the parachute and its operation were completed down it came. The other two envelopes were soon out and inspected whereupon Double-Barrel and Steve the Beer arrived just in time to help pack away. Then blow me down Brad just-get-in-and-fly-it fresh in from South Afrika mate turned up along with his minder and chauffeur Richard Ashford wandered over. Clearly with the inspections completed it 2 Black horse another day in the officewas time for a swift libation before we headed back to demonstrate how the paperwork was completed. Brad, it turned out has managed to stay employed by Bill Harrop’s Hot Air Balloon Safaris, which operate to the north of Johannesburg, and has now bought a house so it seems he won’t have to leave there in a hurry. Richard Ashford has managed to get some flying in for BSB and is apparently going back to rejoin the Burma Brigade in September. Eventually fulltime was declared and we retired to the workshop where Jane sorted the paperwork and we let Mark have ago at ripping envelope fabric. Anna and Phil headed off to Witney or somewhere to collect something he’d acquired on eBay. Sadly we forget to tell him about the Oxford Ring road so it was sometime later he returned. Sorry.

British Nationals – some interesting results
This years British Nationals although not that well patronised with only 13 entrants did turn up some interesting results and, refreshingly, some young blood. Fresh from the Worlds and clearly with an agenda Andrew Holly pulled off a fine performance retaining his title with a score of 11727 which actually wasn’t that far ahead of upstart Dominic Bareford’s second place 11101 which, rather satisfyingly, well stuffed his dad’s 7th place score of 9857. Lovely to see that old campaigner Rupert Stanley turning in a respectable third place score of 10902. Newcomer Chloe Hallett showed them how it was done picking up two prizes, the Best Newcomer and the Montgolfier Winner. Lovely to see that Nicola Scaife came a very respectable 5th, only 90 so points behind Richard ‘I’ll win this for sure’ Parry and only bettered by her old man Matt Scaife picking up the Official’s special prize, the Outstanding Sportsmanlike Behaviour Award. Then again the main people at these events are always going to be the long suffering crews who care for the Skygods and it was Dominic Bareford’s crew that cleaned up getting the coveted ‘Best Crew’ award. Well done the lot of them.

Gordon Bennett what a challenge – drama to the end
Nearly as breath holding as the last one as we go to wotsits we are delighted to say no-one ended up in the Med or in a thunderstorm and after a tense few days of bravery and dedication trucking across the sea and the safety of Corsica and Sardinia the German Teams and French Teams ended up battling it out to the last. End result is that the last four balloons ended up in Sicily. The final result was oh so close and me nails have been nibbled. Germany 1 flown by Wilhelm Eimers and Matthis Zenge managed 1410,64 km, right up their chuff was France 1 with former winner Vincent Leys and Christophe Houver with1406,15 km. Coming in third was Germany 2 with Heinz Otto and Marion Lausch at 1383,77 km and a very very respectable fourth went to France 2’s team Eric Decellières and Hervé Moine nudging 1335,2 km. Now all have been recovered and are speeding back to Vichy for the prize giving ceremony, which will take place at noon on Saturday 6th September at the hippodrome of Vichy-Bellerive, in presence of John Grubbstrom, President of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), and several officials from the cities of Vichy, Bellerive, and (typically) the French Civil Aviation. It was a disappointing race for our heroes Rosey and Wood who despite borrowing a Warsteiner jobbie had communications problems, not between themselves, but with their radios and satNav so took the brave and sensible decision to land before the Med. Big no-no was the daft idea of having the pilot rankings displayed over the live tracking map wotsit. Room for improvement there please. As ever the entire race was wonderfully posted and compered by Robin Batchelor on his Faceache site thing. Nice one matey and you owe me for drawing the winner (o:

The bits that tried to get away

And…..another Hartley Farm Balloon Meet
14 Chris Wood & Co Hartley farmGet one and they all turn up. That famous gas balloonist, nearly crowned champion in this years’ Gordon Bennett Race, popped up with son Will for an inspection of his rather well looked after Lindstrand. Before you could refill the kettle there was his side-kick John Rose along with his missus and blow me down, all the way from Telford Virgin Geoff. Well now more hands and all that and, just out of shot, Richard Kipper, already having had his lovely little lightweight Concept checked over very kindly offered to be crown man. Eventually they all adjourned to the Black Horse whilst we fettled a few bits and pieces and had a peaceful hour or so.

Pete Bish awarded ‘Bottom End of the Month’
10 bishy bottom end of the monthWhen we first saw this bit of kit it was in need of some (loads of) TLC but after a good old clean up and dousings of jollop to the basket it looked as good as new. If ever there were a classic class in ballooning this would have won hands down. Once inspected it was awarded a sparkling Form 1 and, we understand, it has gone off to join G-EVET, Lenny and Helen Vaughan’s Concept, which was sold to a gentleman in Devon. We hope the new owner enjoys polishing!

Then there could be two
7 G-BVBK Maxwell HouseWhilst on a jolly up, as they are affectionately referred to by Jane, in Eire we were asked to take a look at the other Maxwell House Balloon with a view to it too getting back into the air. G-BVBK has been in the care of Malcolm White for a fair few years having been rescued from what appears to have been a damp environment. Despite its low hours it doesn’t look in the best of health and if you found the Jar on a shelf in Tescos you’d probably shuffle it to the back for someone else to use but despite this, and a rather generous amount of localised mildew, it was surprisingly airtight and once inflated didn’t actually look that bad. We grabbed and pulled and tugged all the suspect bits, applauded the repairs made to the bottom panels and mouth tape then subjected it to a horizontal torpedo type inflation in the wind and passed it as sound. The CAA are currently allegedly processing the paperwork so it could be back in the air this year (possibly!). As for it being seen with its sister balloon that remains to be seen. Depends how the mildew infection clears up.

What to do with a lump of Dakota engine
9 Cassington Dakota bikeSpotted by Basser at the Cassington bike night was this fine bit of engineering. It’s a couple of pots off of a Pratt and Whitney radial Dakota engine. Just the job for nipping down the shops. I hope its got a decompression lever on it somewhere.